The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “Do Not Drink” order that affects over 5,000 customers in Skowhegan, taking the action after a sheen of unknown origin was discovered Thursday on two ponds that are used to provide drinking water to the Somerset County town.

A news release issued late Thursday night by the Maine CDC said the order will remain in effect until further notice. Do not drink orders are issued when there is concern about a water supply being contaminated from biological, chemical or radiological contaminants.

Maine Water Co.’s Skowhegan division has 2,300 service connections in the town, which means that more than 5,000 people will be affected by the order, said Rick Knowlton, president of Maine Water Co.

The action became necessary after a soap-like odor was detected in the water distribution system, Knowlton said Thursday night.

“The source of the soap smell has not been identified, and until the situation is resolved, customers are advised to not use their tap water for making ice cubes, preparing food, brushing teeth, or for any other purpose during which water is consumed,” Knowlton said.

He does not know if the sheen on the pond is organic or chemical.

According to the state, a customer reported an unusual taste and odor in drinking water from their faucet late Thursday afternoon. The Maine CDC issued the do not drink order after confirming the customer’s report at a nearby hydrant and observing the sheen on the surface of the two small ponds that supply the water treatment plant.

Maine Water Co. will work with the Maine CDC’s Drinking Water Program and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the sheen that appeared on the ponds. Water samples have been collected and are undergoing lab tests. Information about the results of those tests are expected to be available Friday.

The state also will work with the town of Skowhegan to provide bottled water to those in need. Maine Water Co. is still drawing water from its intake on the Kennebec River and tap water can be used for bathing and laundry.


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